250 Hindu Dalit families from two villages, Pazhangkallimedu and Nagapalli, in Tamil Nadu have decided to embrace Islam after they were kept out of Hindu temples.
According to a report in Indian Express, 180 of them are from Pazhangkallimedu village in Nagapattinam district.
The Dalit families said that they wanted to be able to perform rituals on one day during the five-day annual temple festival. But after being refused permission by caste Hindus, six Dalit Hindus from the village have already embraced Islam.
Volunteers of the Tamil Nadu Towheed Jamaat (TNTJ) reportedly distributed copies of the Quran in the village, while a Christian missionary also approached them.
After the reports of their conversion to Islam gained momentum, Hindu Munnani and the Hindu Makkal Katchi reportedly approached them requesting them not to take the step and have been mediating between Dalit families and caste Hindus.
Local Dalit leader said that the village youth suggested converting to Islam after the administration and the police failed to ensure worship rights for them in Bhadra Kaliamman temple.
“We want to perform Mandagapadi, or lead the rituals, on one of the five days of the annual temple festival. But we are denied that right. My parents and grandparents were slaves. I wish my generation does not have to face untouchability and insults. Conversion may be the only option for us,” he said.
Kumar said police were looking into the issue, and several petitions filed before the district collector had failed to get them any response.
A senior police officer said talks were on to end the stalemate. “There was a suggestion to allow Dalits to conduct puja during the day but they want the full 24 hours. Negotiations are on,” he said.